Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a 2018 fantasy film directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling. It is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series, and the tenth overall in the Wizarding World franchise and is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). It stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Tuner, Claudia Kim, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law and Johnny Depp. Set in 1927, it follows Newt Scamander and Albus Dumbledore as they try to take down the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald while facing new threats in an even more divided wizarding world. 

In 1927, the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA) moves the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald to Europe to stand trial, but he escapes. Three months later, London, Newt Scamander, visits the Ministry of Magic to appeal his international travel ban, and runs into Leta Lestrange, his Hogwarts classmate and the fiance of his older brother Theseus. The Ministry agrees to accept Newt’s request if he helps Theseus find Credence Barebone, who is still alive in Paris, but Newt declines after learning he must work with the cruel bounty hunter Gunnar Grimmson. Albus Dumbledore asks Newt to track down Credence, believing that he is Leta’s long-lost half-brother, Corvus Lestrange V. 

Newt is visited by American friends Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalkski, a Muggle, who has regained his memories that were erased the previous year. Newt is disappointed to learn that Queenie’s sister Tina Goldstein is seeing someone after mistakenly believing Newt and Leta were engaged. After Newts lifts the spell, Jacob refuses to marry Queenie, fearing the consequences she would face. Queenie leaves to find Tina, who is looking for Tina in Paris, followed by Newt and Jacob. 

In Paris Credence escapes the Circus Arcanus with captive entertainer Nagini, a Maledictus cursed to turn into a snake permanently. Searching for Credence’s birth mother, the find half-elf servant Irma Dugard, who brought him to America for adoption. Grimmson revealed to be a follower of Grindelwald, kills Irma before she can tell who sent her. Tina meets Yusuf Kama, who is also looking for Credence. Newt and Jacob follow Yusuf to Tina, only to find her being held hostage. Yusuf imprisons them, telling them that he made an Unbreakable Vow to kill his half-brother, whom he believes is Credence. Unable to find Tina, an upset Queenie is brought to Grindelwald; knowing her abilities, he lets her leave while brainwashing her into joining him through her desire to marry Jacob. 

Newt and Tina invade the Ministry of Magic for documents to confirm Credence’s identity, but are found by Leta and Theseus. Tina and Newt make up after he explains that he was never engaged to Leta. Their search leads them to the Lestrange family tomb, where they find Yusuf confronting Credence and Nagini. Yusuf reveals that he is carrying out his father Mustafa’s wish to seek revenge towards his mother Laurena, who was kidnapped by Corvus Lestrange IV, using the Imperial Curse and died after giving birth to Leta. 

The group follow a crowd to a rally for Grindelwald’s followers, where Queenie is attending and Jacob is looking for her. Grindelwald shows a vision of a future global war, and rallies against laws that prohibit them preventing such a tragedy.

This film has the magic that Potter fans enjoy, but the story isn’t nearly as strong as the other ones. The movie has plenty of plot twists, action and fantasy, but feels a lot like one character chasing after another. It is entertaining, but it seems like there is more time spent battling between good and evil than telling the actual story. The special effects, costumes, scenery and music are great. The acting is superb, but the story goes from one thing to the next far too fast, and there isn’t much about the background of the characters. It seems there is more rescuing of other characters than just slowing down and telling of the story. 

At times the film seems rushed and some scenes are rather slow, but it is not boring by any means. It is still action packed, filled with thrills, fantasy, superb acting and a fantastic storyline. There are humorous, romantic, shocking and heartwarming scenes as well. Is it as good as the first Fantastic Beasts film or any in the Harry Potter series? No, but it’s not terrible. Perhaps if this movie relied less on its bizarre and wonderful creatures and more on giving audiences the feeling of being transported, it would have been a nearly perfect motion picture like its predecessors. 

You have many of the same beloved and hated characters from the first Fantastic Beasts film, but they don’t really change much it seems in this one. Newt is still a smart, quirky magizoologist, Jacob is still in love with Queenie and Grindelwald is still the second of the  “Most Dangerous Wizards of All Time.” 

All the special effects, action and period costuming and scenery, doesn’t make this film outstanding, but wildly entertaining it still is. 13+ 3.5/5 

Top 70 Hardest Movies to Watch

  1. Antichrist – 2009
  2. Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood – 1985
  3. A Serbian Film – 2010
  4. Irreversible – 2002
  5. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom – 1975
  6. Shoah – 1985
  7. Grave of the Fireflies – 1988
  8. Bone Tomahawk – 2015
  9. We Are the Flesh – 2016
  10. Pig – 2017
  11. Baskin – 2015
  12. Hostel – 2005
  13. A Clockwork Orange – 1971
  14. The Exorcist – 1973
  15. Se7ven – 1995
  16. Man Bites Dog -1992
  17. The Bunny Game – 2012
  18. Night and Fog – 1956
  19. Deadgirl – 2008
  20. Happiness – 1998
  21. Oldboy – 2003
  22. Eyes Without a Face – 1960
  23. Begotten – 1990
  24. Ichi the Killer – 2001
  25. Eraserhead – 1977
  26. Inside – 2007
  27. The Last House on the Left – 1972
  28. Aftermath – 1994
  29. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – 1986
  30. Pink Flamingos – 1972
  31. Nekromantik – 1987
  32. Audition – 1999
  33. Cannibal Holocaust – 1980
  34. In a Glass Cage – 1987
  35. Requiem for a Dream – 2000
  36. Titicut Follies – 1967
  37. August Underground – 2001
  38. August Underground’s Mordum – 2003
  39. Visitor Q – 2001
  40. Blood Feast – 2003
  41. Martyrs – 2008
  42. Man Behind the Sun – 1988
  43. I Stand Alone – 1988
  44. High Tension – 2003
  45. Kill List – 2012
  46. Snowtown – 2011
  47. Funny Games – 2007
  48. Gummo – 1997
  49. We Need to Talk About Kevin – 2011
  50. The Human Centipede Trilogy – 2009-2015
  51. Natural Born Killers – 1994
  52. Raw – 2016
  53. Mother! – 2017
  54. The Hills Have Eyes – 1977
  55. Bite – 2015
  56. Slither – 2006
  57. Voyage to Agatis – 2010
  58. Grotesque – 2009
  59. Found – 2012
  60. The Virgin Spring – 1960
  61. American History X – 1998
  62. Deliverance – 1972
  63. Battle Royale – 2000
  64. Midsommar – 2019
  65. The ABC’s of Death – 2012
  66. Enter the Void – 2009
  67. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1974
  68. Saw Films – 2004-2017
  69. Psycho – 1960
  70. The Skin I Live In – 2011

Last Night in Soho (2021)

Last Night in Soho is a 2021 British psychological horror film directed by Edgar Wright and starring Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Diana Rigg and Terrence Stamp. It is the final film appearances of Rigg and Margaret Nolan, who both died in 2020.

The film follows Eloise “Ellie” Turner, who loves the music and fashion of the Swinging Sixties and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Her mother, who was also a designer, killed herself when Ellie was a child. Ellie occasionally sees her mother’s ghost in mirrors.

Ellie moves from her rural house in Redruth, Cornwall, to London, to study at the London College of Fashion, where she has trouble fitting in with the other students, especially her stuck up roommate Jocasta. Only John, another student, is sympathetic towards her. Unhappy in the dorms of the school, Ellie moves into a bedsit in Goodge Place owned by the elderly Ms. Collins.

That night, Ellie has a vivid dream where she is carried back in time to the 1960s. At the Cafe de Paris, she sees a brave young blonde woman, Sandie, ask about becoming a singer at the club. Sandie begins a relationship with charming teddy boy manager, Jack. The next morning, Ellie designs a dress inspired by Sandie and discovers a love bite on her neck.

Ellie has another dream in which Sandie auditions at a Soho nightclub, arranged by Jack. before returning to the same bedsit that Ellie has rented. Inspired by these dreams, Ellie dyes her hair blonde, changes her clothing style and gets a job at a pub. She is approached by a grey haired man, who recognizes her resemblance to Sandie is not living the life she had wanted and Jack begins to pimp Sandie to his male business partners. Ellie begins an investigation after discovering in a dream that murders have taken place in the bedsit and soon discovers that the owner of the place she is renting from has a dark past and that she may or may not be the real Sandie.

This film is equal parts intense, twisted, bizarre and disturbing. The combination of putting present day London and 1960s London together is ingeniously done, combining the fashion and music of today’s Britain to the fashion and music and to what it was in 60s, along with the two stories clashing together as one and at times separately. The soundtrack is great combining both sixties and 2000s hits, the fashion is fantastic, everything Sandie and Jack (others from the 60s) wear is beautiful and spot on with the time period, making the film both gorgeous and thrilling at the same time.

Thomasin McKenzie does a good, not great job in the film as Ellie Turner, but was not the best fit for the role. Anya Taylor-Joy is outstanding job as Sandie , Matt Smith is equally outstanding as Jack. Terrance Stamp is good as Lindsey, the grey haired older man who stalks Ellie at the pub, I just wish he had had more lines in the movie.

The film seems to jump into the wickedness almost too quickly, not really building up much beforehand. You do learn how Sandie meets Jack, but you learn too fast, so that part is bit rushed, making it seem like she becomes nightclub star and he becomes her boyfriend and pimp overnight, which is impossible. The story is almost all intensity and too much of it takes place in the 60s world and not in the present day. Also, the film towards the end, stretches the horror factor too far, making the landlady into the overdone insane character, which at first you think is Ellie.

If the director would’ve spent equal time in both eras, stopped the overdoing of the weird towards the end and cast a better actress for Ellie, the film would have been fantastic. It is still entertaining, but I don’t see it winning any best picture awards or Palme d’Or at Cannes. But both Taylor-Joy and Smith deserve awards for their performances. 18+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: Jaws (1975)

Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg based on Peter Benchley’s 1975 novel of the same name. It stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Murray Hamilton and Lorraine Gary. It follows the story of a man eating great white shark attacking beachgoers at a summer resort town, coaxing police chief Martin Brody (Scheider) to hunt it down with the help of a marine biologist (Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter (Shaw). Murray Hamilton plays the mayor and Lorraine Gary plays Martin’s wife.

This film has the feel of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which Spielberg was going for. For the time period of this film’s release it was considered revolutionary in film-making and many still regard it as that, although some viewers have or do point out the “fakenes” of the effects particularly of the shark. Yes, at times, you can tell the shark is fake and a few times that the attacks are fake as well. But the film was still ahead of it’s time and still just as scary today as it was then.

This film is beyond shocking and nail-biting no matter how many times you watch it. It is also extremely gory, so not good for children under the age of ten. The intensity of this movie makes it both exciting and frightening. Despite what some call “fake” about this film, it is still very well done and makes you not want to get in the ocean, not to surf, swim, or go out on a boat, so don’t watch this before going to the beach or on a cruise.

Roy Scheider is outstanding as police chief Martin Brody, although the character could’ve drank, smoked and cursed less, especially around his kids. Murray Hamilton is equally great as the mayor of Amity Island, so is Richard Dreyfuss as Martin Hooper the marine biologist. Robert Shaw does a fine job as Quint the shark hunter and Lorraine Gary is good, not great as Ellen Brody.

Somehow a fake giant shark killing beachgoers fell into place, because this film brings an astonishingly effective shock factor and is legendary for that. It is so brilliantly executed that it deserves it own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is one that any film lover must see to believe. There is not one bad moment, not one boring scene. It sends you on a terrifying ride throughout, sends your heart racing the moment you hear the famous music, that has become synonymous with sharks. It is one of Spielberg’s finest films. A true masterpiece, so don’t let the nit-picky critical reviews turn you off of watching this.

This like I said is not for young kids, it is violent to the max, lots of smoking and drinking and quite a bit of cursing. Also, if you don’t like lots of gore, this may not be for you. 13+ 4.5/5

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Promising Young Woman is a 2020 American black comedy thriller film written and directed by Emerald Fennell in her directorial debut. It stars Carrie Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge and co-stars Laverne Cox and Connie Britton.

This film follows Cassie Thomas (Mulligan), a 30 year old medical school drop out who lives with her parents in Ohio. Years before, her classmate Al Monroe raped her best friend Nina Fisher and the school’s legal team dropped the investigation, leading her to commit suicide. Cassie then starts spending her nights at clubs, letting men take her to their houses and revealing her soberness when they take advantage of her.

At the coffee shop she works at, she gets asked out by a former classmate Ryan Cooper (Burnham). On their first date he tells her Al is getting married. Cassie then plans a revenge on the ones responsible for Nina’s rape. She meets Madison McPhee (Brie) for lunch, an old friend who doesn’t believe Nina was raped. Cassie then gets her drunk and hires a man to take her to a hotel room. The next day Cassie listens to several voicemails from a very upset Madison, who doesn’t remember what happened. Cassie goes to Elizabeth Walker (Britton), the dean who dismissed the case of Nina’s sexual assault due to lack of evidence.

After Madison confronts Cassie in front of her house, wanting badly to know what happened after that lunch. Cassie tells her nothing happened. Madison gives her an old phone containing a video of Nina’s rape before threatening her to never contact her again. Cassie sees Ryan on the video. She confronts him and threatens to release the video if he doesn’t tell her where Al’s bachelor party is going down. Ryan tells her and begs for her forgiveness, but Cassie turns him down. She disguises herself and goes to party to try and seek revenge on Al.

This film is definitely a #MeToo rape revenge film that is very dark and disturbing, at times too much. Although this film may be relatable for those that have been through sexual assault or those that know someone who has, it still manages to be entertaining. I don’t know why this is also called a dark comedy, because I saw no humor whatsoever. Severe violence to another person is not funny at all and if you have a weak stomach, I don’t recommend you watch this movie. It has a feel similar to 2005’s Hard Candy and 1976’s Carrie. Some might call this a feminist film, big payback’s a b*tch type as well and it is both. It’s a movie showing that women are not sexual toys to be taken advantage of, that there are some terrible in the world and how many legal cases get dropped when they shouldn’t.

Carrie Mulligan is outstanding as Cassie Thomas, giving us just enough brain, fake hooker, flirtatiousness and bad*ss revenge seeker. This is definitely one of, if not her best role to date. This role was tailor-made for her, although her character is pretty similar Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie could’ve played this role, but not as seriously as Mulligan. Bo Burnham is fantastic as Ryan Cooper, Cassie’s short time boyfriend and eventual enemy. He tries the whole time he and Cassie are together to cover up the Nina Case and does a great job until Madison reveals the truth.

Alison Brie, who in my opinion, isn’t always the best actress, did an excellent job as Madison McPhee. She portrays the new mother and angry ex-friend with such feeling, you forget Brie started out on a sitcom, because she is not the adorable naive and bubbly girl anymore, she’s a serious woman with bite and fight. Connie Britton is good, not great as Dean Elizabeth Walker. Maybe that’s because her part is small. To me, she needed to be more in the film, as she is an important character. Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge are just good, nothing fantastic, in their roles as Cassie’s parents. They too, needed bigger roles, as they are equally important as well.

Overall, this film is wild, disturbing and wicked. It is very entertaining, except the violence is a bit over the top. Not for anyone who can’t handle lots of gore and brutality. But if you’re a fan of thrillers or a fan of the film Carrie, (either version), you’ll definitely enjoy this film. Adults Only. 4/5

Classic of the Week: Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window

Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr.

The film follows the story of photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries (Stewart) who is confined to a wheelchair in his Chelsea apartment. His rear window looks out into the courtyard and several apartments. During a heat wave, he watches his neighbors, who are keeping their windows open to be cool. He sees many different things going on, but is convinced one of his neighbors has committed murder.

This film has been said to one of Hitchcock’s best. It starts outs slow, but does pick up. It also isn’t Hitchcock ‘s most action packed film, but it is still fairly entertaining despite being a bit slow at times. But that’s because it takes place almost entirely in Jefferies’ apartment.

This film at times is a bit boring and could some some action or more interesting scenes than just L.B. Looking out his window the whole time, but that’s what you get from a character that is supposed to be wheelchair bound. James Stewart is great as L.B. Jefferies and Grace Kelly is equally great as his girlfriend Lisa Carroll Fremont. They worked together perfectly throughout the movie.

This isn’t Hitchcock’s most exciting film and much of it far too slow. It could have use some action of some sort to make it more enjoyable, but that doesn’t make it a bad film, just not anything outstanding in my opinion, although many film critics and scholars would say differently.

There are some some good parts of this movie, like the supposed murder scene and the exuberant dancer, just the ordinary people is what is uninteresting and that they could have done without.  But being the doctor’s orders that Jeff keep his leg elevated, we’re sadly stuck in his apartment with him. Had this film had more settings, it would have been more captivating, even though film experts will probably say otherwise.

Overall the acting is fantastic, but the story lacking a bit of the excitement factor it deserves from such a great cast and director. It’s not terrible, but it’s not outstanding. Alfred. Could have done better. 18 & up 3.5/5